Palestinians riot in West Bank ahead of Abbas speech

IDF responds by using tear gas to disperse demonstrators in Kalandiya; Ahronovitch holds security evaluation meeting in J'lem with Danino.

By JPOST.COM STAFF, MELANIE LIDMAN
September 23, 2011 15:55
2 minute read.
Palestinian youth throws stones at Kalandia

Palestinian youth throws stones at Kalandia checkpoint 311. (photo credit: REUTERS/Darren Whiteside)

Dozens of Palestinians gathered near the Kalandiya checkpoint near Ramallah and threw stones at IDF soldiers on what police believed would be a tense Friday ahead of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' speech to the UN later in the day.

The IDF responded by using tear gas to disperse the crowds.A similar incident also took place in Bil'in.

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Despite the incidents, east Jerusalem and the West Bank were mostly quiet on Friday afternoon.

IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz arrived at Kalandia during the violent clashes along with division commander Brig.-Gen. Nitzan Alon.

The two arrived in order to assess IDF operations at the site of the violent protests.

Following a strategy meeting with police officers on Friday afternoon next to the Al Aqsa Mosque plaza, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Ahronovitch said "the period from the end of prayers until the Abbas speech are very sensitive hours," he said.

Five thousand worshippers attended prayers at Al Aqsa and left the plaza without incident, though a young woman in religious dress was seen being led to a waiting police car in handcuffs.

Police arrested two youths at the Majalas Gate, one of the entrances to the Temple Mount, after the two tried to force their way into the plaza.

As is typical during politically sensitive times when police fear the possibility of violence, Friday prayers were limited to men over age 50 with blue Israeli ID cards and women of any age.

Three youths were also arrested in Beit Hanina after they burned tires and threw rock at a patrol of border police. Another youth was also arrested for throwing rocks in Ras al Amud.

Police Insp.-Gen. Yochanan Danino said security forces were deployed across the country with a special emphasis on Jerusalem and the border around Jerusalem. Danino and Ahronovitch planned to tour the Jerusalem-West Bank border and the Kalandia checkpoint later this afternoon.

"Our goal is awareness, trying to be aware of situations before we need to use force," he said after the meeting. "The quiet is continuing and we haven't seen any evidence that people are preparing to disturb the peace," he said.

Ahronovitch also stressed that the car accident this morning in Kiryat Arba, in which a 5-year-old Palestinian boy was in critical condition after being hit by a car driven by Jews, was an accident. "We know this was not premeditated and it doesn't seem that there is a connection to the events and we will continue to enforce the quiet," said Ahronovitch.

Hundreds of east Jerusalem residents are expected to gather at Damascus Gate this evening for a showing of Abbas' speech on a giant screen.

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